11 of the Best Things You Should Have for the Family Picnic

I love a good picnic. There’s something about eating al fresco, the food tastes better, you get to laze about while the kids run around, it feels such a treat and a luxury (as long as it’s warm and dry enough!). And over the years, I’ve definitely honed my family picnic skills. Here is my recommended list of 11 Of the Best Things You Should Have For the Family Picnic. 

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#1. A Picnic Blanket

Not just any old picnic blanket though, the best ones are backed with waterproof material so it doesn’t matter if the ground is damp, you can still throw it out and settle down without worrying about everyone’s bottoms gradually getting soaked.

A bonus is if the blanket can fold or roll up to make it easier to store in the car to and from the picnic.

I love this Star Picnic Blanket from Great Little Trading Company, it’s quilted for extra sturdiness, waterproof backing and comes with adjustable carry handles so you can throw it on your back and leave your hands free to carry other things back to the car. (Priced £45 at time of writing)

star picnic blanket

#2. A Cool Box

While a picnic basket is certainly a nice-to-have, a sturdy cool box or cooler bag is a must for your family picnic.

First of all it helps keep your cold stuff cold, secondly it’s great for throwing bits into after the picnic, and thirdly, it stores more easily in the car being nice and square shaped.

Tip: Freeze juice cartons in advance to stuff in and around the food, they will help keep your food chilled, and they will thaw out in time for your picnic for the kids to slurp.

cooler bag

#3. Picnic Cutlery

You don’t want to risk your nice set of knives and forks getting left behind, so an easy-to-store plastic set of cutlery is another must for your family picnic essentials list.

But check that the tines of the forks look usable before you buy the set, as I have bought a set in the past where you’d be lucky to prong anything with the fork’s poor design.

family picnic

#4. Plastic Glasses

For all the juice (and wine for Mum & Dad) it’s handy to have a set of picnic glasses that you can store away until next picnic time.

I really love this Stacking Jug from M&S, as it stores the glasses in the jug when you’re not using them, perfect for my kitchen which always seems to be short of storage.

picnic jug and glasses marks and spencer

#5. Foldable Chairs

While your picnic blanket is great for stretching out on and having a snooze on, I do prefer to eat sitting up, so foldable chairs for adults & kids are another handy item on my family picnic list.

You can set out your picnic blanket and place the chairs around it, which gives people the option of snoozing or sitting as they please.

camping chair

#6. Drinks Dispenser

Before you scoff at me, let me tell you I have had so many spills from cartons and juice over the year that a drinks dispenser is on my list to get this year to make it easy and super handy for dispensing e.g. homemade lemonade.

I’ve been looking at this clear drinks dispenser from M&S, also available in a floral pattern, and I can see this being very handy for picnics, BBQ and even Sunday afternoons in the garden.

drinks dispenser marks and spencer

#7. Portable BBQ

One of the nicest things I bought in the last few years is a purple bucket portable BBQ which is handy for chucking in the car. You do need to have charcoal and lighter too, so if you prefer the easier life, just pick up a couple of disposable BBQs from your local supermarket and don’t forget matches or a lighter.

And make sure to cool it off thoroughly or douse with water after you’ve finished cooking to be able to dispose of it properly.

portable bbq

This green portable bucket BBQ available from for £9.95 at time of writing.

#8. Windbreak

If you’re heading to the beach or a park, it’s not always possible to find shelter so I really find a windbreak is great especially for those days when the breeze is taking the edge of the heat of the day.

(It also gives you a little more privacy if kids & teens need to change in and out of swimming togs)


#9. Games

Throw a bucket and spade into the car along with frisbee, and soccer ball for entertainment before and after the picnic, or perhaps even during the picnic, as in my experience kids rarely sit still long at picnics, preferring instead to snack.

Pick up some bubble mixes in your nearest discount shop, one for each child going to the picnic, to see who can blow the biggest bubbles or multiple bubbles.

And nothing beats a kite for getting the kids and parents running up and down the grass!

kite flying

#10. Wet Wipes

Paper towels and napkins are good for during the picnic, but I always take a packet of wet wipes with us, as they just make it so convenient for wiping spills or cleaning up.

#11. Beach Towels

No matter if we’re beach-bound for our picnic or not, I always tuck a couple of beach towels in. They are handy for people paddling at the seashore, or by the lake, or even if they’ve been running about in damp grass in bare feet.

And the dog’s paws can always do with a clean off too before we all head home, tired from all the fresh air and stuffed full of delicious food!

Beach towel

Recommended Reading: 7 Fun Outdoor Games for Summer

Over to you now. What is on your family picnic essentials list? Share it with us in the comments below. 

family picnic

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls